Letters to the Editor (10/18/23) | Letters to the Editor | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Letters to the Editor (10/18/23) 

Published October 18, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated October 18, 2023 at 10:12 a.m.

Hold My Beer

Six months ago, trans TikTok personality Dylan Mulvaney was featured in a social promotion for Bud Light. The backlash was swift, contributing to a 10 percent decline of Anheuser-Busch revenues. It must have seemed like a great time for Citizen Cider to roll out an alternative light beer. It was more than "a classic case of product diversification," as Carolyn Shapiro writes ["Trouble Brewing," September 27]. Citizen spotted a hole in the social fabric of beer drinkers and rushed to fill it with Hey Bub, just one letter away from "Hey Bud." The red-and-gold can is a throwback to Schaefer and Schlitz. The marketing campaign is more of an awkward appeal to working-class men than a rebuke of LGBTQ influencers.

So where did Citizen go wrong? I'm guessing it didn't get early buy-in from its employees. The pitch would have been something like this: "We see an opportunity to pivot from cider (declining) to craft beer (growing). We're introducing a light beer that some of you may find controversial. Anyone who doesn't want to support it is free to leave. It's not personal, just business."

Did Citizen give employees a heads-up? Did it mistreat those who pushed back? As Paula Routly observes in [From the Publisher: "Bitter Brewhaha," October 4], it's a case of he said-she said. Every brand needs to reinvent itself now and then. But the "hold my beer" approach to branding no longer works. Marketers should think — and plan — carefully if they don't want to get sprayed by a shaken can of suds.

Christopher Weakley

Los Angeles

Reason to Clean Up

[Re "Prickly Issue: Discarded Needles Litter Burlington. What Can Be Done?" October 4]: How little does Howard Center leadership think of drug addicts to believe that they are incapable of exchanging needles rather than just leaving them on the ground unless there is a special prize promised to them? These same drug users are capable of procuring drugs, new needles, food and water, shelter, etc., but somehow their capabilities end at cleaning up after themselves?

Actively involving them in the process of cleaning up the mess they're making is one of the kindest things we could do for them.

Why does harm reduction start and end with only the active addict? Surely we can extend the pursuit of harm reduction to include the whole community by prioritizing clean and safe public spaces. It is in no one's best interest to allow people to openly use drugs in public.

Behavior we tolerate will flourish. We are, very simply, allowing people to use hard drugs in public — in parks, across from schools, etc. We are allowing people to steal with impunity, including bikes and vehicles. We are allowing people to leave heaps of trash around the city, including needles that children pick up and poke themselves with.

Addicts need treatment and recovery. Homeless addicts need long-term treatment and stabilization that slowly and intentionally steps them down to self-sufficiency. I hope our community can understand that we don't have to choose between public safety and addressing housing and addiction issues.

Tyler George-Minetti


Separate Shelters

[Re "Prickly Issue: Discarded Needles Litter Burlington. What Can Be Done?" October 4]: Decades ago, our state recognized that intoxicated people and our communities are better served by keeping these offenders out of jail and instead placing them in sobering shelters such as ACT 1.

It is time to expand this evidence-based model for alcoholism to address the opioid crisis.

Quite simply, our existing homeless shelters cannot be revamped to meet the intense needs of this drug-addicted population. Shelters for the unhoused are likewise not substitutes for psychiatric wards. Mixing these populations — the innocent poor who are mere victims of circumstance; the severely mentally ill; and hard-core substance abusers — in congregate shelters is a recipe for failing all of them, as well as for insurmountable expenses.

The long-standing critical need for low-barrier shelters simply cannot be met by undermining existing space and services for sober and sane hardworking poor people. Those caught in the cycle of opioid addiction need their own appropriately staffed and equipped shelters as a necessary first step for them to achieve sobriety.

Mark Flynn


Learning to 'Reid'

[Re "Reading Reckoning," October 4]: Three weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Seven Days at the Milton Hannaford, as I do each week. I noticed the front-page headline "Reading Reckoning" and was immediately transported back to the 1980s, when two of my children had significant struggles with reading. At that time, we struggled to find solutions. Happenstance and good fortune led us to a young neuroscientist named G. Reid Lyon.

As I drove from Milton back to Grand Isle, those memories of how Reid dramatically altered the course of my children's learning came flooding back. Once I started reading the article, I was pleasantly surprised to see Reid mentioned in the opening paragraph. Reid worked with my son's teachers, training them on the power of phonemic awareness and, when coupled with phonics, how it could lead to dramatic advances in reading. My son's progress during the next year resulted in closing a two- to three-grade-level gap in his reading scores. His sister followed several years later, utilizing the same approach to rapidly close an even greater gap. Today they both have college degrees and work in technical fields.

As parents, we sometimes forget, or are not always aware of, those people who have significant impacts on the lives of our children. I recognized the life-changing influence of Reid back then in the 1980s and continue to be thankful for how he made such a profound difference in the lives of two of my children. Wherever you are Reid, thank you once again!

William Costello

Grand Isle

It's Complicated

[Re "Reading Reckoning," October 4]: I do not doubt that there continue to be many struggling young readers, although the "eureka" as to why in this article is a gross misrepresentation and oversimplification.

Teachers who are not familiar with the methods and necessity of explicit instruction in phonemic and phonological awareness as an integral part of any reading program they use are light-years behind in their own educational knowledge and practice.

Deborah Weizenegger


Weizenegger is a retired speech language pathologist.

Pipe Nightmare!

[Re "Pipe Dream?" September 27]: Wow! A $42 million investment to extend the use of old technology that is only 26 percent efficient! Perhaps putting $42 million, or much less, into upgrading or replacing the electric generation, or investing in the end users, is the better solution.

Steam distribution is the worst method of moving heat. Multiple large-scale users, such as universities and federal campuses, are replacing steam distribution with hot water, which can be converted to steam where needed. The benefits are smaller pipes, less cost, more efficient use of energy, lower maintenance and fewer construction issues. At least someone thought this back in 2017; maybe we should go find them again.

Large-scale district heating plants are losing customers at an alarming rate because delivering energy and maintenance is so costly. Why go in this archaic direction?

Geothermal heat pumps on a large scale are being implemented at universities to efficiently eliminate fossil fuel heat and provide high-performance cooling.

Help the hospital and university be more efficient, not extend the reach of inefficiency.

Michael Ambrosino

East Hardwick

'Disgusting Accusations'

In ["Chord and Discord," September 27], Mali Obomsawin calls Vermont Abenakis a misogynist group intent on talking over women and scoffing at them. She says that while attending a Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs meeting, she was the only woman in attendance. In sweeping generalizations, Mali offers little of substance, yet, because her claims are so inflammatory, newspapers print her words.

Let's look at the facts: At Odanak, a male chief has led for over six years. In Vermont, two of the four recognized tribes are led by women. Indeed, the Vermont Abenaki tribes have always been maternal systems. Mali claims she was the only woman attendee at a meeting of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. There were two women commission members who introduced themselves on Zoom.

At Odanak, there are two women on their five-member tribal council. The nine-member Vermont commission has three women, with a fourth awaiting approval from Gov. Phil Scott. That makes our participation roughly the same.

Without no reporter questioning the validity of Mali's comments, she has put forth a path of distortions, innuendos and outright lies about the Vermont Abenaki leadership, past and present. Her words hurt, and they cause genuine grief for families whose members have long passed. Her accusations at the "Beyond Borders" symposium, in May 2022, were outrageous and baseless. She was there to talk about Odanak history and instead hurled disgusting accusations that were painful and deceitful.

As long as she is given a forum in Vermont newspapers, her lies will continue unabated. Enough already!

Shirly Hook

West Braintree

Studied to Death

The "simmering" subtitle of "Pipe Dream?" [September 27] suggests that the Burlington Electric Department has been working on its scheme to build a steam pipe to the hospital for a long time.

Coming just three years after Corix's quite different proposal failed, this Burlington Electric/Vermont Gas Systems/Ever-Green Energy effort should meet the same fate as other attempts to cobble together a thermal project based on the McNeil Generating Station.

Prior to the current proposal, there were at least 14 studies related to thermal project proposals for the McNeil site, ranging from greenhouses to steam transmission lines to various district energy system configurations, all of which led to "no go."

I know because, with Dermot McGuigan, I wrote one of those reports, the 1992 proposal for a low-temperature, citywide district energy system — the right project at the right time. But the time for McNeil-based district energy has passed.

An August public records request revealed that Burlington Electric had lost 10 of those 14 studies — reason enough for McNeil's joint owners to challenge Burlington Electric management. Burlington Electric might have saved three years and so much money by consulting prior reports instead of hawking the warmed-over steam-pipe proposal.

Peter Duval


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